5 Powerful Questions Every Boss Should Ask Herself

What can I do to bring more happiness to my employees?

There is one aspect of my work that makes me so amazingly happy I feel blessed to be doing what I’m doing. I think this is an overlooked part that we don’t see because we are so busy with our own lives and careers.

We get to work with people who want to be happier.

You can probably say the same thing for at least 90% of your co-workers. Some of them probably want to stay miserable, but for the most part most of them want to be happier. Helping them bring more happiness into their lives is vital to growing your career.

The thing that makes my job fun is that happiness and productivity go hand in hand. A happy employee is much more productive than an unhappy one.

“A happy workplace can increase sales by 37%” (Martin Seligman from Psychology Today)

“A happy workplace can decrease burnout by 125%.” (Harvard Business Review)

The hard part is harnessing this happiness. Employee happiness can feel so elusive

One of the most interesting questions I get from employers is how does work happiness improve the bottom line.

ROI is important, I get it.

You want to make sure that employees are happy, but you also want the best results for your business.

Quick Story

I had a friend who works for an amazing company. They follow many of the work happiness rules, they give free drinks and candy to employees, they have a slide, they bring in speakers, and they give their employees a flexible work schedule.

The problem is they fall in the same trap that most technology companies do. They want happy employees, but they don’t work on the fundamentals. The stuff that shows employees that their work matters a lot and empowers them to create better results. Employees want to see their hard work matters. They want to see progress.

If your company is just throwing great perks at you then your company culture will suffer. They must give tools to employees that want to improve the company.

You give me a piece of dark chocolate and I’ll be happy for a few minutes, but then I’ll go back to my normal mood. It’s a quick fix for the moment, not a long-term solution.

“Happiness is the joy that we feel on the way to living our potential.” Shawn Achor

Improving your happiness at work is not a quick fix. It’s long-term thinking that helps employees feel happy and stay happy. This is where progress is vital to every employee.

Does your company keep doing the same things over and over to try to bring more happiness to your workday?

Little Steps

What really needs to happen is working with employees’ emotions to help encourage them to build better relationships, do work that matters to them, and improve their results. There are no quick fixes when it comes to emotions. It all starts with listening to employees and their opinions of what needs to happen to improve the company.

This concept has been going on for ages. The blacksmith that encourages an apprentice to share his ideas with him is someone that learns from his apprentice to make his business better.

I call this the Flying V.

You’ve probably seen the V formation that geese use as they migrate to warmer or colder climates, depending on the season. They use this formation to help support each other through the journey. One goose takes the brunt of the wind (friction) and creates the starting point for the draft that all the other geese benefit from as they fly behind.

One goose doesn’t fly at the front for the whole journey. When he gets tired, he’ll drop back and let someone else take the lead. They trade off to support each other through the journey. It’s this technique that allows them to fly further together.

Most companies should utilize this same principle. Each employee knows his job well, but many times isn’t utilized to their full extent. They don’t require their employees to help support the company with their ideas. They follow the head geese (CEO, COO, CFO, etc.) ideas, implement their strategies, and feel underutilized.

The C level executives should be dropping back from time to time to rest and let other employees support the larger mission of the company.

The idea is a simple one, just ask employees for the best ways to improve the company. The hard part is implementing this within an organization. I talked with a client who was the head of HR that struggled to actually make time to listen to their employees’ suggestions.

They liked the idea, but were stuck in their old habits.

As a leader it’s your job to break these old habits.

If you are a leader at work you have to ask yourself some powerful questions:

  1. What can I do to be happier?
  2. What can I do to help employees build stronger relationships?
  3. Am I eliminating obstacles for my employees?
  4. Am I asking for feedback from my employees?
  5. What can I do to empower my employees to utilize their passions?

The first question is one that many managers forget to ask themselves. They think their happiness doesn’t matter to their employees, but it truly does. Happiness is contagious. If you are happy, your employees will be happier too.

The best part is that it’s mutually beneficial to everyone to bring more happiness into the workplace. Happy employees are more engaged, so you have their actions heading in the right direction. That’s the beauty of happiness. It’s easy to get them taking action on the right things because this is where the best results come from.

I have a step-by-step process that I’ve come up with through years of research, testing, and coaching. It’s called the “Happy Employees” program. It’s in BETA and I would love to talk with you if you are interested in bringing more happiness to your team. You can click here to learn more and we can set-up a quick chat to see if I think my program will help you and your employees.

You can click here to learn more. It explains what it takes to bring the Flying V techniques to your company so you can bring more happiness and engagement to your employees. If you are an employee and think your company can benefit from these ideas then send them on to your boss. It’s at least a good way to spark a conversation.

10 Habits of Brilliant Leaders

Zuckerberg quote
I recently shared a drink with a friend who runs a small company. He told me a secret that I’ve never heard him discuss before.

He talked with me about his employees’ moods and how they can fluctuate in such a broad way, which really affects the quality of their work.

“A few years ago I caught one of my employees sleeping at his desk. He wasn’t a bad employee, but he wasn’t great either. He was never late, but there were times he didn’t seem interested in his work at all. Then there were other times he was fantastic. It would fluctuate like this all the time. I didn’t know what to do.”

Shortly after finding his employee asleep he decided he had to make some changes. He told me he took my advice from a conversation over a couple beers last year. He began to explain his vision and why he made certain decisions. He opened up his thought process to all his employees every month. He explained the companies income and costs, what direction the company was trying to go in and why. This also opened up a dialog with his employees that he never knew was possible.

His employees responded better than he thought they would. He even got ideas from his employees of how the company could save money and how to improve the customer experience.

“It was like someone flipped a little switch on in our company. I wished I had done it sooner. Almost everyone was happier and much more engaged. It’s funny though. I never got through to the guy that sparked it all. I eventually had to let him go. Hope he’s at a job he enjoys. I still think about him and feel grateful for the idea he sparked.”

People often stop looking at the larger picture because they get comfortable. This comfortable feeling reduces their desire to go above and beyond. They coast along, slowly disengaging and disliking their work.

A study at the University of Alberta showed that people need a sense of purpose in order to feel engaged with their work. A ‘Spirit at Work’ intervention program for a group of long-term health-care workers boosted morale and job retention. This program urged employees to rethink their job, which reduced absenteeism by 60% and turnover by 75%.

“We discovered that people who are able to find meaning and purpose in their work, and can see how they make a difference through that work, are healthier, happier and more productive employees,” said Val Kinjerski, a University of Alberta PhD graduate who co-authored the study in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing.

By helping your people understand why they do what they do – you can increase happiness and productivity.

I’m going to give you a few ideas that should help your employees feel more engaged with their work.

Are you interested in bringing more fun and happiness to your team? I’m creating a beta program to help you improve employee engagement. I would like to help a small group of leaders grow a happier culture and improve communication at work. If you are a team leader, manager, HR, or CEO then reach out to me. The program will be extremely affordable (big discount) in exchange for your help in making the program better. If you are interested please fill out this short form and I’ll get back to you right away.

1. Empower employees to improve the company

When a leader listens and empowers his employees to fix the small things, there are more people responsible for creating a great customer experience. Each small improvement quickly adds up, improving innovation and helping keep customers happy.

“We try to have as many channels for expression as we can, recognizing that different people, and different ideas, will percolate up in different ways,” Laszlo Bock, VP of Google

When employees believe that their voices matter, they are more likely to feel appreciated by the company. This feeling then encourages each employee to do better work.

Your organization employs smart people, otherwise they probably wouldn’t hold the positions that they do. They just need a chance to unleash that creativity and wow their co-workers and customers.

2. Share positive stories

Your organization has many stories of how employees solved problems, helped others in need, and other ways in which they went above and beyond to make someone happy. However, a lot of companies like to play the modesty card. They hesitate to flaunt their achievements.

Great leaders understand the power of positive stories when they show the value that they bring to the customer.

A client recently told me about how I helped her feel happier. She explained that medication that she took to keep her emotionally balanced didn’t help, but I did. She thanked me profusely. (I put her quote on my Happy Employees page.) I sent the email to my editor. I think she got a better understanding of who I’m trying to help and why I work so hard to create great content. Since she edits many of my articles, I need her to feel engaged with the work, so we keep putting out the best content to help the readers of this blog.

You need to flaunt your greatness!

You have to share similar stories with each other. Talk about how a customer gushed over your attention to detail. It shows the rest of your co-workers why you do what you do. Most of you aren’t working just for the paycheck. You are also working because you make a difference in people’s lives.

The more stories an organization can compile the more powerful it becomes. If your organization is huge, then break it down into departments. Even departments such as marketing and accounting need to compile stories. Many of these stories may be more internal, but it’s still important to document what is happening so you can share with your people why you do what you do.

3. Focus on great culture

Great results are the bottom line of every company. The only way to get great results is to have support at every level. If one domino falls short the customer experience weakens. You can’t have great marketing and bad customer service. That’s why empowering employees to create their own happiness systems, we’ll discuss more in #5, is vital to improving every aspect of your company culture.

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” Simon Sinek

When a leader makes the company’s culture a top priority it ripples throughout the whole organization. They want create as many avenues for employee happiness that their resources will allow. It’s this habit that helps an employee feel engaged with their work and deliver great results.

4. Explain the vision again and again

A great leader has vision that guides everyone in the organization. They are able to plan for next year like it’s next month. They know how they want to get there and help explain what he wants done to make it happen.

It’s this vision that helps put into focus every action an employee makes within the company. Without explaining this vision many employees become lost, unable to see what is truly important.

“If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning.” – Larry Page, CEO of Google

Every company helps someone. It’s up to the leaders in your company to bring clarity to who you serve and how you will make it happen. The more ways you can explain your visions the clearer it becomes.

5. Allow employees to design their work systems

Your employees know their strengths. They know whether they enjoy certain projects and which ones drive them crazy. Utilizing this information is vital to getting great results out of your employees.

Allow your employees the freedom to design how they would get the task done. They will own the project and work harder to make sure it succeeds.

6. Listen to Feedback

In order to stay engaged in our work, we have to recognize our mistakes and understand how to fix them. By listening to employee, customer, and vendor feedback, an organization is taking the time to understand their mistakes and correct them.

I have known many people who like to solve problems. They get an energy boost from making a solution happen. I worked at K-Mart in my teenage years and I’ll never forget a look on one customer’s face because of what one of my co-workers was able to do for her.

A woman came into the store asking for a patio umbrella that wasn’t in stock. The salesperson called 4 different stores before she found the lady’s umbrella. He asked the store to transfer it and he would call the lady as soon as it came in.

I remember when the lady came into the store to pick up the umbrella. She was gushing because it was the only one that fit her patio furniture.

You could see the manager of the employee beaming with pride.

I’ve seen and been on the receiving end of an employee just not caring. They can hear and/or see that I’m upset and they choose not to help.

You need to give your people a chance to create solutions so they can feel like they are a superhero.

7. Encourage employees to fix mistakes

Yaro Starak wrote a blog post about his experience at Starbucks. It made great advertising for Starbucks. Starbucks empowers their employees to make good decisions, which leads to the best type of advertising in the world: word of mouth.

Yaro ordered a tea and an oat brownie. He waited for it to arrive on the counter. After a few minutes he told the barista that he was still waiting for his tea. The Starbucks employee had forgotten about his order. He quickly made the tea, apologized and handed him a piece of cardboard that said…

We apologize if your Starbucks experience was anything but wonderful. We want to know how we can make things better and always invite you to share your thoughts with us. The next time we see you, please enjoy a beverage, on us. We hope your next visit is better.

Yaro might bring a friend in with him the next time he goes to Starbucks. Now that extra expenditure almost balanced itself out.

Yaro explained how he felt…

I waited about an extra minute longer for my tea than I should have. That is definitely not long enough for me to get angry and I was served very quickly once I notified them that my tea was missing.

Yet, despite this, the Starbucks policy is to offer a complimentary beverage even if their system is slightly out of whack. I walked away impressed that I scored a free beverage voucher, but not really because of the beverage itself, I was impressed with the customer service policy I just witnessed (hence I’m writing a blog post about it!).

Starbucks did not diminish in my eyes as a result of this incident. In fact they impressed me, so much so that I’m now writing a blog post that will be read by thousands of people proclaiming good things about Starbucks service (that’s some good word of mouth). Of course not every Starbucks customer has a blog they can rave to when something happens, but every person has friends and people they talk to, and this one policy of Starbucks will encourage word of mouth through normal social interaction too.

It all started because Starbucks empowers their employees to make the customer feel good. That’s the benefit to happiness at work. The employee corrects a mistake, and the customer is happy after receiving a free voucher for something of such little inconvenience. Everyone feels good. The drinks that Starbucks make don’t cost them that much, so in reality they are probably losing less than a dollar on the whole transaction.

Gaining a loyal customer.

8. Recharge internal battery every single day

When you run a company you can’t go 9 hours straight without stopping. You probably can’t even go 4 hours without recharging. That’s why smart leaders take the time to recharge their mind and body.

Listening to your body instead of powering through, it’s vital to making quality decisions.

“Manage your energy, not your time.” – Tony Schwartz

Next time you feel sluggish try going for a walk or taking 10 deep breaths. The idea is to do something that gets you away from thinking about work and allows you to let go of your tension loop. You’ll feel refreshed, happier, and make better decisions.

9. Celebrate hard work and great results

The number one reason people leave their job is because they don’t feel appreciated. If you are ho hum about showing your appreciation then your people may stop trying.

You can do something simple like walk up to them and just thank them for their hard work.

People want to know that what they do matters. That means celebrating all the good things.

This should be done in large and small groups. The larger gatherings can occur about 1-4 times a year, while the smaller groups (celebrations within a department) should be done more often.

Making your celebration a regular routine is the key, because you want to make a habit out of celebrating your successes. Try celebrating once a quarter to start. If you overload people and celebrate too often, they will get bored and also be unable to find reasons to rejoice in their hard work.

To avoid allowing this practice to fall away, it’s important to make the celebration fun. That might mean bringing food, let people play a game, and finding other ideas that get people excited about attending your party.

10. Develop company core values 

Making the values visible for the employees to read and hear every day helps each employee connect to a larger vision. We all need to believe that our work means more than just completing our tasks.

“Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”
― Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

I suggest to my clients that they encourage their teams to come up with core values as well. What truly matters to the company is important, but team values are just as important. They will help guide daily decisions.

Help your people connect to a larger purpose. Ask them what they believe are the core values of the organization. You may be surprised by the responses.

Good Habits Build a Better Company

After implementing just one of these habits, assess how these changes affect your organization. You will probably notice that people are more engaged and willing to try a little harder.

“I think as a company, if you can get those two things right — having a clear direction on what you are trying to do and bringing in great people who can execute on the stuff — then you can do pretty well.” – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

I know one of these ideas will help make a big impact in your company. The companies that succeed are the ones that make these ideas a regular habit. It needs to become part of the culture, so when something difficult happens there are good habits to fall back on. And when something great happens everyone can celebrate together.

* Do you want your employees be happier and encourage them to become more engaged? Then check out our Happy Employees Beta program and see how the Work Happy Now 10 step process can help your company retain it’s great people, improve their focus, and deliver a great customer experience.

15 Proven Ways to Encourage Employee Happiness and Engagement

Teamwork

As a leader of people you need to encourage happiness in every facet of your business. I’ve created 10 techniques that will help your company be happy and successful.

These are concepts that are easy to understand, but may be hard to apply to your company’s culture. I’ll break them down so you can use them in your company.

1. Be Happy Yourself

Being happy yourself can sometimes be more difficult than making someone else happy. If you don’t know how to make yourself happy, it will be very difficult to help the people you manage to be happier. That’s why I believe your passions should guide many of your choices.

You have to find what makes you happy at work and try to do more of it. If you are a manager and miss a certain aspect of your old job (i.e. more customer interaction), then try to do more of the customer interaction projects and give a part of your job that you dislike to an employee who enjoys the type of work that you don’t.

I struggled with my own work happiness because I didn’t take responsibility for my own emotions. I would let my emotions run rampant, causing me much more pain than I needed to endure. Read my What Do I Do If I’m Unhappy at Work? to get a better idea of how to be happier at your job.

2. Help People See Their Progress

People want to see that their hard work is making a difference in people’s lives. It’s why janitors enjoy their work. They know what is expected of them and how to deliver on those expectations.

That’s what most people need out of their work. They want know that at the end of their day that their hard work mattered. Why do you think teachers are paid more for all their hard work. Most of them don’t do it for the money. They do it because they see their students daily growth and believe in their purpose.

You can show people their own progress by recognizing their hard work. When you notice they know their work matters.

I’m in the process of creating a happiness at work beta program at a reduced rate. It will be a weekly program to grow a happier culture and build stronger teams at work. If you are a CEO, team leader, manager, HR then reach out to me and ask me about how you can encourage more fun and be happier at work.

3. Make Time for Your People

Are you taking the time to listen to their problems and helping them come up with solutions? I know most of my superiors never did this for me.

At most of my jobs, I felt like I was on the outside looking in. I know a lot of people feel this way. They feel like they are the last to know what is going on with in a company.

Every leader needs to make time for his or her people.

You can do this by:

  • Talking to employees about decisions.
  • Asking them about their own issues.
  • Hanging out with them outside of work.
  • Asking them for their opinions.
  • Chatting with them about their personal lives.

Making time for your people might sometimes feel like a time suck, but it’s worth your effort. They will show more loyalty and become more engaged. Zappos, the employee happiness juggernauts, encourage their managers to spend roughly 15% of their day with their staff. They know that it works.

4. Show People the Autonomy That They Already Have

People want more freedom. The freedom to do what they feel is right. This allows them to live their core values and enjoy their work.

What many employees don’t realize is that they do have autonomy.

You need to let your employees know about the perks that they might not be using. Make them aware of the breaks that they can take because it will help them reduce stress and increase productivity. Inform them about anything the company provides that could make them happier.

If the company is too strict then make some changes. We live in a different world compared to just ten years ago. If you want to retain great employees, then you should consider allowing them more freedom and flexibility as long as they get results.

5. Help Them Find Meaning in Their Work

People need to believe that the work they do is worth doing. Otherwise they see no point in putting in extra effort.

A great way to help your employees find meaning is to tell stories that they can connect with. A good story can show a perspective that the employee hadn’t yet seen.

My father is an electrician and has owned Staib Electrical for 40 years. I worked with him through high school and college. I was always baffled by his need to form the wires so perfectly. My dad made sure his electrical panels were like little pieces of engineering art work. One day, after he fixed my work (again), I asked him why it was so important to him to make the wires look perfect.

He explained how he recently received two phone calls from potential clients. They had both heard from a previous customer about the great work he did. He asked them who referred him, and they both named a neighbor of theirs, Mr. Hanken. My father told me about Mr. Hanken’s delighted expression when he showed him his work. Mr. Hanken then bragged to his neighbors, and they too wanted an electrician that cared as much as my father does.

I understood why my dad’s presentation was so important. If he didn’t apply a bit of art to his craft, everyone would think he was just like every other electrician. It separated him from the crowd and as a result people talked him up to people they knew. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.

From that point on, I applied a little art to every wire I formed.

6. Listen and Respond to Their Emotions, Not Just Their Problems

People often complain just so they will be heard. They don’t necessarily want solutions; they want empathy.

The next time an employee comes to talk to you about another employee, give them what they need emotionally. Let them know that it can be tough work with (fill in difficult coworker here). Allow them to vent.

If they ask for a solution then you can try to find one together, but most of the time they just need an emotional boost, rather than a fix to their problem.

7. Stop Letting Assholes Dictate the Company Culture

One asshole can wreak havoc on a whole department or organization. They are miserable and they want everyone else to be miserable too.

The job of any leader is to stop these people from bringing everyone else down. That may mean helping this person recognize their issues and figuring out a way to become happy. If that doesn’t work, you may need to let them go.

The only way the company culture will support great work is if everyone treats each other with respect.

* #7 was based on the book. The No Asshole Rule (Amazon affiliate link).

8. Encourage Friendships

People need to have friends at work. If they don’t, they are much less likely to stay at a job, feel happy, and be creative.

“Among the 3 in 10 workers who strongly agree that they have a best friend at work, 56% are engaged, 33% are not engaged and 11% are actively disengaged to the point of poisoning the atmosphere with their negativity. Those who don’t have a best friend have slim 1-in-12 odds of being among the engaged. Worse, the best-friendless stand a one in three chance of being actively disengaged. That means they may threaten sabotage or otherwise become a serious drag on the company’s success.” – Del Jones of USA Today Best friends good for business

A manager should encourage his or her staff to hang out with each other. The more people hang out with each other, the more likely they are to find ways to like each other.

It’s helpful if you create opportunities for people to gather outside of work so they can bond. If you are their superior then they may not be able to relax when you’re there, so gather them and take off. Yes, they may complain about you after you leave, but it’s important that they find common ground, even if it’s making jokes at your expense.

Believe me, they will be more supportive, happier and a stronger team as a result.

9. Recognize Hard Work

A boss who appreciates hard work, not just the end result is a better boss. The psychology behind it is simple. If you show people that you are grateful when they work hard they are more likely to enjoy the process.

Many bosses only appreciate the end result. If the end result is bad, then the employee confidence and morale takes a hit.

Show people that you care about their effort, not just the results, and you’ll see an improvement in productivity.

10. Find Out Why People Leave

People usually leave a company because they aren’t happy. Try to find out why they are leaving and what you can do to solve the issue.

I’ve never had an exit interview, but I had a friend who did. They kept asking the question “why” until they got to the heart of the problem. They didn’t want some patsy answer that wouldn’t help them.

Most employees will just want to get out of there, but if you take the time to listen, you may be able to figure out a solution that will help future employees. You may have lost this employee, but you can improve other employees’ happiness so they stick around and do great work.

11. Know Your People

You must know your employees’ strengths and weaknesses. If you keep giving PR work to an employee who hates it, they won’t be sticking around very long.

When you assign work to an employee who enjoys the task, they respect and appreciate you. The happier you make them, the higher quality their output will be. It’s a simple concept, but one many managers ignore.

You must spend time with your employees in order to understand them. Do you know what they do in their spare time? What type of food do they like?

The more you know about the people you manage, the easier it will be to lead them.

12. Have More Fun

Work should be fun. If it’s not, I guarantee your turnover will be high. People don’t want to feel to constricted. They want to know that they can be themselves without fear of being frowned at by managers and other co-workers. The more fun you can encourage people to have, the more creative your company will become.

There are lots of ways to have fun.

“There is good evidence that if you allow employees to engage in something they want to do, (which) is playful, there are better outcomes in terms of productivity and motivation.” – Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play

You have to decide within your company’s culture what is appropriate because Naked Friday might not be a good idea. Just saying.

13. Good Managers are Aware of their Limitations as Well as Strengths.

If they know they don’t handle conflict well and lean toward avoidance, then hopefully they have the integrity and courage to recognize their limitations and make dealing with their stuff a priority by learning conflict resolution and healthy communications skills as part of their professional development. Better yet, they might organize a department wide workshop on positive/assertive communications skills (preferably non-violent communications)so everyone can be empowered by learning those skills. Workshops on understanding how different personality/temperament types function at work would also be great ways of increasing understanding and reducing  frustrations.

14. Follow Through Promptly on Policy Issues

Nothing kills a department morale faster than neglecting to attend to comfort factors like temperature control, air quality, ergonomics or anything else that might lead to health problems that could have been avoided), promotion and performance considerations right away.

Procrastinating on getting back to employees about possible promotions, pay raises or performance evaluations in a timely manner does not do much for the respect or trust factor. Good managers, don’t cop out with the “I’ve been too busy with other stuff”, nor do they dump the responsibility for being “proactive” about the issue back onto the employee: they recognize it is THEIR responsibility as the person with the power to hire, fire or promote their people–not the employees’–to have the professionalism and courtesy to respond in a timely manner, whether it’s good news or bad news or otherwise.

15. Set the Example and the Tone

Your passion matters. If you care about them and appreciate their hard work then they will respond with more effort.

Managers who are really interested in fostering and maintaining an environment that is happy, productive and where employees conduct themselves professionally do this by setting the example and the tone–especially in how they handle stress and frustrations.

Managers who consistently back bite other employees in the company, express frustration at others using violent imagery* or other inappropriate language/stress management techniques create a really toxic environment in one of two ways. First, by modeling such behavior, managers are indicating that they approve of such behavior, and many of their employees will adopt the same attitudes to “fit in” or earn brownie points with the boss. (It’s really scary to see this in action!) Second, such behavior does absolutely nothing to earn the loyalty or respect of one’s employees (except maybe to their face) and everything to create an atmosphere of distrust and fear.

*While “imaginary” violence may not actually physically harm a person, the malice/intent to harm is still there even though the action hasn’t actually occurred. It’s both a little scary and traumatizing for employees to be subjected to these kinds of behaviors on a regular basis. Recent social psychology researchhas shown that blowing off steam this way actually leads to more anger and a tendency to depersonalize/dehumanize the object of one’s imaginary violence.

Wrap-Up

The environment at work doesn’t need to be boring or strict. In fact, Southwest, Google, and Zappos are proof that happy employees improve the bottom line.

Bosses, managers, or supervisors have so many tools at their disposal. The research in Inc. Magazine, Psychology Today, and WorldBlu (to list just a few) proves that people who are happy at work are more productive and engaged.

Start by implementing these concepts, but don’t stop there. There are many ways to encourage happiness. Just remember that every organization and group of people are different. Sometimes it takes a few tries to see some progress.

If you are a CEO, manager, or leader at work and want to create a happier and more engaged workplace then reach out to me and ask me about my new beta program to help build stronger culture and teams at work.

Are you a leader at work? What would you add to the list?

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7 Tips Your Managers Could Use to Increase Employee Happiness and Productivity

Listening to employees

If you could tell your manager just one thing he or she could improve on to make your workplace better for you and your colleagues, what would it be?

And how would you feel if this manager took your suggestion to heart and actually started improving this aspect of their leadership? You would probably feel very lucky to have this type of manager and this type of relationship with them.

Ok, so most managers could probably improve on more than one aspect of their managing style, but who doesn’t have multiple things about their working style that they could improve on. So starting with the most important thing first is usually the best place to start.

Managers play a big role in whether a company is successful, so if they don’t have the right tools, training and passion, the whole company will suffer. And a suffering company means lost happiness and along with that, lost profits

So, whether you are the CEO of your company trying to improve your employees’ happiness or you are young and new to a company, you all have one thing in common. You want your managers to keep improving.

Quick Story

I once worked for a tyrant of a boss. His bullying ways crushed the enthusiasm I had for my work.

A month into the job, he asked me to research buying minor league hockey jerseys from a nearby team. It wasn’t for work, just a task for him personally. I researched their website and called for some information and then gave him the report. He looked over the information and asked me what size the jerseys came in. I didn’t know. I hadn’t seen it on their website, and I hadn’t known to ask when I called.

He told me a monkey could do a better job than me. Slap! Right in the kisser. The sad part is I stayed there for another 1.5 years before I finally left.

Because of his crushing criticism, I gave up on trying to do anything well there. And it’s especially sad because I hurt myself as much as I hurt the company with my bad attitude. Instead of adding to my superpowers, I regressed.

Many people had tried to talk with him about his bullying, but he didn’t really listen. I guess listeningor changing wasn’t in his nature.

Which leads me to my 5 tips that a good manager uses with his or her employees.

1. Develop a Feedback Loop

Asking and listening to employees about what is going well and what isn’t going so well is so important to making them feel heard. If they don’t feel heard, they stop believing they matter.

Creating a simple feedback loop is the perfect place to start. I’ve recently worked with a company where we created an online Google doc where employees could voice their opinion and be anonymous if they wanted. They could just fill in the opinion section and leave the name prompt blank.

The CEO would then put the questions in a Word doc, answer the questions, and post his answers on their intranet and also email everyone a PDF.

We did create rules around submitting feedback. The questions, complaints, ideas, and appreciation had to be constructive, which meant no foul language, name-calling or pointing fingers. If an employee had a complaint, they also had to offer a solution.

The results have been positive and people have been respectful. One of the keys has been being consistent. Even when no one had filled out the form, the CEO sent out a message with an idea of his own, or just wrote that there were no questions that week.

Are you a manager that needs help developing a feedback loop that works? Contact me today to find out how I can help you unlock your employee’s superpowers.

2. Leverage Your Superpowers

You most likely have superpowers that aren’t being fully utilized at work. We all have passions, focus and strengths that aren’t utilized to our full potential. We get caught in treading water instead of striving for excellence.

How might you carve out time to leverage your superpowers for just 30 minutes every day?

Let’s say writing is one of your superpowers, but you are in the accounting department. What project is important to the company that you contribute to with your writing skills?

You need to test out if your potential superpower is a good fit for your company’s needs. When you can get a better understanding of what your company needs and how you can help meet that need using your superpowers, then you can create a win-win relationship.

The more win-win scenarios you can create in your career, the more successful you will be and the more leverage you will create, which means being able to pick and choose the projects you want to work on more often.

Do you need help working closer to your values and leveraging your superpowers? If so, check out the Unlock Your Superpowers Manifesto and 7 part course so you can develop your career into something that makes you happier and more successful.

3. Share Their Vision with You

Managers usually have a good idea of where they want their department to go, but they often don’t communicate it adequately to their staff. A good manager lays out the goals for the year, keeps track of how close the team gets to reaching them or exceeding them, and helps people understand what is expected of them on a frequent basis. We’ll talk about why this matters in #6.

Vision is important because your manager is a leader, not only a project leader, but an emotional leader as well. If they can’t help you and the whole team understand where they want the ship to head and why, no one will want to support their ideas.

If you want to help your team and your manager is open to it, the best place to start is to help your manager understand why they do what they do, help them map out a plan for the next 3, 6, and 12 months, and start to define what it will take to reach tho goals.

If you can assist your manager in clarifying their goals and timelines and how each member of the team can best contribute to the success of the team, when they share that vision with the team, it will help everyone get on board with where the team needs to go and how to best get from the current point A to the future point B.

4. Develop Emotional Connections Through Their Core Values

You might have seen me talk about core values on Domino Connection, my customer connection blog. People like buying from companies that have strong core values, and that can strongly influence their decisions.

Employees also like following managers that have strong core values because the employees understand why the managers make the decisions they do. The employees might not always agree, but at least they know why a decision was made.

I invite you to think about past or present managers with whom you got along well. I guarantee they were able to convey their core values effectively.

For example, who wouldn’t want to work hard for a manager whose core value is fairness. When people are evaluated based on the results they generate instead of nepotism or cronyism or prior friendship, it makes working hard much more rewarding.

If you want your manager to help your team explore core values that can help the team gel together, the best place to start is to ask a question about core values in a meeting. If you can come up with core values as a group, it can be quite a driving force for the team.

5. Explain the Expectations You Have for Them

One of the biggest complaints employees have for their managers is the lack of clear expectations. A manager that makes communication a priority and explains what they expect from his or her employees. helps an employee understand his or her role at work, and they know what is part of their work and what isn’t.

If you are unclear of what is expected of you at work, I suggest asking your manager for more specifics. This conversation can be difficult, but it’s better than the alternative of hoping that you are working on the right tasks and projects.

6. Include Employees on Goals

You’ve probably heard stories about managers that allow their employees to provide input on what their goals are for the year. This is a powerful tactic to develop more personal responsibility in team members. i.e. when employees help create their goals for success, they feel more responsible for reaching those goals.

The key is to make this a collaborative relationship. You and your manager should set out the criteria of where you want to be in 12 months, then discuss how you can get there.

If you have a clear goal, you can outline what this plan will look like on a weekly or monthly basis. Having a mutually agreed upon plan between you and your manager is much more empowering for you instead of just being told what is expected of you.

7. Gather the Team Together to Bond

A good manager makes time for the team to bond in order to reach its goals. If there are no emotional connections, then there is less teamwork and communication.

Teamwork is essential for a team to reach its goals, so what activities does your team have to gather and bond, and how can your manager foster even more team interaction?

The best advice is to schedule it.

A manager who wants to foster team cohesion and productivity could schedule a team brainstorming session from time to time (called a retrospective in the software world for people doing what is called “scrum”).

A good manager could also have a team meeting every month and encourage people to discuss what is working and what is not. You could buy lunch and have an informal discussion of the team status. A manager could even invite people out to happy hour then pay the first 2 rounds of drinks per person then take off because they want the team to bond with each other. They are the ones that need to work together to ensure the success of the team goals.

Next Steps

These are just some of the ideas I have and have learned for team building by management. If you want more team building ideas from an employee-initiated or manager perspective, please feel free to email me and we can set up a time to chat.

If you can encourage your manager or especially a CEO to pick even one of these ideas and give it a try, please let me know the results.

If you are an employee that wants to improve communication and happiness in your department, but don’t know howto get your manager to think about implementing the concept of core values in your workplace, talk to some other trusted employee who may be able to help you in this endeavor.

It’s all about baby steps. You don’t want to overwhelm your manager. So just start a very casual dialog around the concept of core values and whether they can explain what theirs are, and if they can, how it can help improve the productivity of everyone under them at work.

Your Turn

What would you add to the list? What have you seen work well for your managers?

* Do you need one-on-one help. I offer a career coaching package that helps you unlock your superpowers, so you can create a happier and more successful career.

The Official Work Happy Now Book is Here!

work-happy-now-amazonDo you have  friends who won’t stop complaining about their jobs?

That was me 5 years ago. That’s why I started Work Happy Now. I wanted to do great work, but didn’t know how.

I knew that the only way for me to do great work was to work on my attitude, my skills and my ability to get results. Every day I would sit and research what made people happy at work. Why were some people so good at being happy and accomplishing great work while others just loved to complain?

I saw the bullshit that I put up with. I saw the lack of focus and motivation because of my attitude. I realized how I was making it difficult on myself to be happy.
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Why is the Game Angry Birds so Popular?

addictive-angry-birdsThere are too many iPhone apps to keep track of. There are over 300,000 apps available on iTunes. When you include all the other smart phone apps available it’s head spinning. One of the most popular apps is the game Angry Birds. It’s #1 in many countries.
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Coworker Trust – Sometimes It’s Better to Give AND Receive

TrustEditor’s note: This is a guest post by Eileen Habelow, Ph.D. of Randstad

You work with them about 8 hours a day, 250 days out of the year. Depending on your line of work, you may see them more than you see friends and family. Your co-workers are an integral part of your ability to do your job, to develop and succeed in your career and even to ensure your day-to-day happiness. In this year’s Randstad Work Watch survey on coworker relationships, 70 percent of respondents said that workplace friendships create a more supportive and friendly workplace. That’s why building healthy, trusting relationships with these people is so important.
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Work Happiness Tip – Tag Your Co-Worker

I posted on Twitter about the importance of rewarding your co-workers. I love Twitter, by the way. The ability to connect with fun, smart and quirky people is brilliant.

A friend on Twitter told me that she likes to create tags for her co-workers.

I asked her what she meant and she explained that she likes to give out random acts of kindness to the people she works with. She draws beautiful pictures on pricing tags. She sent me these photos so I could share them with you.
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The Secrets to Workplace Leadership

shh-leadershipI shared a drink with a friend who manages a team of five people. He was wondering how people’s moods can fluctuate in such a broad range, which affects the quality of their work. One of his employees is always up and down. He is engaged with his work one week and then he seems to lose interest. His interest fluctuates and he isn’t sure why.

We all have this problem it’s just that most of us force ourselves to stay focused. My friend told me that he has tried giving this employee various kinds of work to see what interests him, but that didn’t work either.

I asked him if he ever sits down with his staff to explain the reasoning behind the work.

He said he didn’t. He never really thought of that because it’s pretty obvious to him. They need to design websites that exceed the customer’s expectations.

He was losing out on a huge opportunity. People often stop looking at the larger picture because they get comfortable. This comfortable feeling reduces their desire to go above and beyond the normal effort.

A study at the University of Alberta showed that people need a sense of purpose in order to feel engaged with their work. A ‘Spirit at Work’ intervention program for a group of long-term health-care workers boosted morale and job retention. This program urged employees to rethink their job, which reduced absenteeism by 60% and turnover by 75%.

“We discovered that people who are able to find meaning and purpose in their work, and can see how they make a difference through that work, are healthier, happier and more productive employees,” said Val Kinjerski, a University of Alberta PhD graduate who co-authored the study.
– E-science news gathered this information from the Journal of Gerontological Nursing.

By helping your people understand why they do what they do – you can increase happiness and productivity.

I’m going to give you a few ideas that might help your employees/coworkers to connect with their work.
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Team Building Activity – Hint – Colorful Balls

colorful-juggling-ballsJeff Sloan, co-founder of Start-up Nation, talked at a Microsoft conference about creating your own business. He is a serial entrepreneur of electronics and various other media.

Jeff and his brother were promoting one of their gadgets at a conference and they bumped into a woman who was juggling, so they started juggling with her. They got to talking with the woman and hashed out a distributorship to sell the juggling balls throughout North America.

Their juggling package was the number 1 item sold for Father’s Day back in 1992.

They positioned their product as “Stress Relief for the Busy Executive.” An item that has been around since the pyramids in Egypt was the best selling product for fathers in the US. Jeff was able to do this because of a relationship that he created with the department stores.
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